• Kyodo, Staff Report


Former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has rejected a request to attend a metropolitan government hearing on soil problems at the site of the Toyosu wholesale food market, back-tracking from an earlier pledge to cooperate, metro government sources said.

Ishihara had said he would assist with any investigation into the decision-making process that led to the soil debacle at Toyosu, which is supposed to replace the aging Tsukiji market.

In May 2008, Ishihara directed metropolitan government departments to consider a plan to create concrete underground chambers under the new market, as an alternative to the original plan, which called for 4.5 meters of clean fill on the site.

But a report by metro officials, released by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Sept. 30, concluded that Ishihara was not responsible for the underground chambers.

The report also drew a blank on who changed the plans. The finding fueled perceptions of deep-set opacity in the body’s decision-making.

On Wednesday, a determined Koike threatened disciplinary action against officials who worked on the relocation project.

Koike said last week that it was her understanding that Ishihara was ready to provide information about the Toyosu site and that she would hold a hearing.

The soil at the Toyosu site, where a Tokyo Gas Co. plant formerly stood, was contaminated with toxic chemicals, including benzene and chromium.

The site was selected in 2007 to house merchants currently operating from creaky, aging facilities at the Tsukiji fish market. The toxins were detected at Toyosu the following year.

A decision on whether the relocation should go ahead will be made after further tests on the contamination in November. The results of those tests will be released in January at the earliest.

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